Ride Principals Look Back On 'OX4'

Seven years on from the group's demise, former Ride frontman Mark Gardener is gearing up support the recent release of "OX4-The Best of Ride" with an acoustic tour of the U.S. While dates for the Marc

Seven years on from the group's demise, former Ride frontman Mark Gardener is gearing up support the recent release of "OX4-The Best of Ride" with an acoustic tour of the U.S. While dates for the March/April trek are still being set, Gardener is already confirmed to play March 13 at this year's South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

"I will mostly concentrate on tracks from the 'Best of' but I will also be adding a couple of my favorite tracks from [1990's] 'Nowhere' and [1992's] 'Going Blank Again,'" Gardener reveals. "Overall, the bulk of the material will be stripped down to just myself and an acoustic. There could be the odd sound and loop here and there. Maybe another guitarist. This is all being looked at, at the moment, so we'll have to wait and see on that one."

Ride was formed in 1988 in Oxfordshire, U.K., consisting of vocalist/guitarist Gardener, guitarist/vocalist Andy Bell, bassist Stephan Queralt, and drummer Loz Colbert. The band emerged alongside peers like Lush, the Pale Saints, and Swervedriver, and was heralded as an icon of England's early-'90s shoegazer movement. Between 1989 and 1996, the band released four studio albums, four EPs, and one concert disc.

"Icons?" Gardener asks aloud. "I don't think too much about supposed 'movements' or labels that journalists invent. My only real concern is my music and not getting too caught up with labels and boxes. It can be quite entertaining, though, hearing about these things."

Although the band has no intention of reforming at the moment, Gardener -- who has plans for a solo album in addition to dates in Europe and Japan -- says the door is still open. "I'd never say never -- who can tell what the future will bring?"

In fact, Bell, who became Oasis' permanent bassist in November 1999, shares this sentiment. "At the moment I can't see [a reunion] happening, but you never know," he says. And although at the time of this interview Bell was unaware of Gardener's plans for an acoustic trek, he supports it just the same. "Is he doing that? It's fine with me, in fact, I'd like to see it," he says. "I would obviously welcome Andy joining me on any of the shows," Gardener offers. "Though, I think he's kind of busy with the Oasis boys."

So it seems that the former members of Ride are still on good terms, despite a falling out during the recording of their fourth album, "Tarantula," that ultimately fostered their split. Things were on the mend when Bell, Gardener, Queralt, and Colbert came together in 2001 to compile "OX4," a project that first surfaced later that year in the U.K. through Ignition Records in both box set and "best of" formats. "I'm on good terms with everyone, even myself," Bell jokes. "I see Loz more than the other two -- I saw him last month actually."

"I was very happy with the 'Best of'," Gardener says of the project, which was released in the U.S. in December through independent label The First Time Records. "It was great to, at last, hear everything again with fresh ears. It gave me a new perspective on what we did as a band and I feel proud about it."

Bell, too, is mostly pleased. "I just wanted it all to fit in with the records we released while we were playing together and I think it does," he says. "It was a democratic process. I'm okay about the selection. I kind of understood it couldn't be all of my personal favorites because hardly any of those songs were singles. You've got to follow the rules when you do those things."

Although the band was signed to Sire Records in the U.S. and Creation Records in the U.K. during its heyday, the members of Ride elected to go with the comparatively tiny The First Time Records for the stateside release of "OX4." "First Time's enthusiasm for the band and the project meant that they connected with Ignition and the next thing we knew was that the record was going to be released in the States," says Gardener.

Aside from playing a few songs "unplugged" with Ride years back at London's Royal Albert Hall, Gardener admits he's never played an entire acoustic set by himself. "This will be a new experience for me," he reveals. "A lot of the Ride tracks sound great stripped down, so of course it will be quite an intimate affair."

The artist says the U.S. tour grew out of a suggestion by The First Time's owner/founder Gagan Palrecha. "Gagan suggested the idea of coming out to play the odd radio station and show," the vocalist reports. "The idea grew from there. I've been getting some new material together for a solo album and basically wanted to get back out and start playing some gigs again. I really like the idea of playing a 'Ride Best of' set along with a few of the newer tracks that I'm considering for my new album. I've always enjoyed my times in America, so I'm looking forward to coming back over."

Looking back on their original run and considering Gardener and Bell share a near disbelief regarding the influential status Ride has achieved over the seven years since it disbanded. "I have been surprised and extremely flattered at times with the amount of interest in the band," says Gardener. "That's the biggest compliment -- when your music has stood the test of time and has been an inspiration to others."

To which Bell adds, "It seems like they're talking about somebody else sometimes. It never felt at the time like our band would be remembered."